The Barcelona City Council is canceling the city’s plan that regulates the activities of cannabis social clubs here since 2016. The associations lose their municipal licenses and become private social clubs, which means that aspects such as location, health, or ventilation characteristics of this activity are no longer guaranteed. All of this is done under the pretext that the clubs are promoting the use and cultivation of cannabis, activities that these establishments have been banned from their existence.
The administrative dispute of the Supreme Court of Catalonia came to the conclusion in its Judgment 1627/2020 of June 2nd 2021 that the city council has no powers in relation to the regulation and order of these bodies because they can be prone to a crime and it is the judges who need to decide that. The Spanish Supreme Court rejected the last appeal in April this year. This decision sets a precedent for the rest of the Autonomous Communities where licenses for this activity still exist.
It requires the consistory to transform about 200 licensed CSCs into private social clubs. Then, city authorities will open a phase of intervention and control. It means that it will take a round of individualized inspections that could lead to the ordering of closures or the opening of criminal proceedings to various clubs and associations, as well as possible sanctions under criteria that are still unknown.
As impacts in the medium term, we can find the non-limitation of cannabis associations in the city and, therefore, possible overcrowding of these places without any rule on environmental, hygiene, health criteria or specific needs for their activity. This decision encourages illicit markets and opens the ban for organized crime groups, with the risk of city invasion with practices that generate different types of violence.
The new negligence of the Spanish authorities by restricting the regulatory powers of the city council encourages organized crime and the stigma of the social movement and makes it difficult to work to regulate this reality. Barcelona City Council recognizes “the need for the Activity Regulation from a public health perspective“.
Barcelona is the cradle of Cannabis Social Clubs. An internationally expanded regulatory model for cannabis that respects the rights and health of consumers and reduces their exposure to illegal markets. Social movements there have been demanding recognition for 20 years. Now is the time to take a step forward. Spain could lead the psychoactive cannabis regulation in the EU. Will the Spanish legislators have the courage to tackle this problem effectively, taking into account the civil society approach? Who knows.
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